Friday, October 8, 2010

So far, a wonderful trip

It's so good to just be able to spend some time with Tony and Barbara! I got in a bit late on Tuesday because my connecting flight to Washington was delayed two hours. I tried to use my phone, but it won't work in the US. I'm angry about that because that is the one thing a really insist on when I change phones, that they work in the US. It doesn't work with the US SIM card or the French SIM card, so it's not the card, it's the conversion to the US system. But, that little communication snafu being what it is -- little, I managed to find a pay phone to let them know I'd be late. I was thinking how it was a shame I hadn't just picked up the car in Philly and driven to DC. It would have saved time on the return trip next Tuesday.

Once at the DC airport, I picked up the car with its GPS and, having arrived after rush hour, made it speedily to Bethdesda, where a lovely Jumbalaya was waiting for me for dinner. We talked for a little while, but I was tired and went to bed early.
On Wednesday, I showed Tony the wiki. We set up his username and password so that he can now go on and enhance the narrative and correct mine. Just opening one document sets off other memories and I love listening to him. Yesterday, we opened a letter he had written to my parents from Germany, full of events that he still remembers.
We had lunch on Wednesday at Sweetgreen, a salad bar restaurant in Bethesda, the third of a chain created by one of N's friends from Georgetown. Rita told me to look it up, so we went there for lunch. The salads are fresh and tasty and since it was a bit past lunch hour it wasn't crowded. Not empty, either. Aside from the music being too loud, forcing one to speak too loudly to converse, it was good and I'd recommend it. I had a tasty dessert of frozen yogurt with fresh fruit toppings.
From lunch we went into DC to see an exhibit. We couldn't find a parking space close enough to the Renwick, so we went to the Smithsonian and saw the exhibit of Madelaine Albright's pins, "Read my pins". Very, very interesting. It's a huge collection and yet she managed to find or buy yet another pin to fit exactly the message she wanted to get across for each meeting. Of course, she also received quite a few pins as diplomatic gifts. Really, click the link for the exhibit website and take a look. It's fascinating.
By the time we got out, it was rush hour and we crawled to the movies to see Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the new Oliver Stone sequel to Wall Street, from 1987. The actors were excellent, but the story was confusing. It does all come together at the end, but it's frustrating to follow. A good movie, but not worth all the hype it's been getting.
Yesterday, Thursday, I went into DC on my own. Tony drove me to the metro station and I got off at Union Station, where I spent a little while just looking around. The station looks beautiful. I don't remember it as so majestic. Of course I guess the building always was, but I just never really looked. They've got quite an upscale shopping center in the station. It was too early, so the shops were not yet open, but I could imagine it well. There's a vast food court downstairs. It's just a short walk to the Russel Bldg. where I stopped to visit Senator Casey's office. I was there as a member of AARO and a constituent from Pennsylvania and was able to meet with his staff person most in tune with tax and financial issues. It was a pleasant meeting and she told me that they are, of course, aware of the unintended effects of tax reporting and banking regulations and welcomed hearing about them personally.... I then went on to the Rayburn Bldg. on the south side of the Capitol, to see someone in Representative Fattah's office and was equally well met. So, I accomplished what I set out to do on the hill.
It was beautiful yesterday, sunny and warm. I walked over to the new Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian, of course. It's a beautiful building of rough sandstone, part of a western landscape. The exhibits are fantastic, but it's too much for a single visit. After an hour, you can't concentrate on what you are seeing or reading. This is definitely a place to come back to over and over. I decided to continue walking and ended up walking all the way over to 17th St. That's the mall, from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, up to the White House (where the helicopter was taking off just as I got to the Ellipsis), then up past the Executive Office Bldgs and to the Renwick. Claire and I had been to the Renwick several years ago to see the craft exhibits. This time, my purpose was to see the Bresler collection of turned wood. It was, indeed, a beautiful collection. Some of the wood bowls looked like porcelain. I don't know how they can do such fine wood turning for such a thin shell. That was my purpose, but I discovered another exhibit going on there now: The Art of Gaman. This is a moving exhibit of art - drawings, paintings, sculptures and craft work - done by the Japanese internees at the detainment camps during WWII. Beautiful work in such a desolate setting.
Then, I continued walking to the nearest metro station and, stupidly, I got off at Bethesda instead of the Medical Centers and walked back to the house. Except, very close to the end of this very long walk, I missed a turn and ended up making a phone call from a retirement/nursing home. When I looked at the letterhead to tell Barbara where I was, it was Carriage Hill, where Nana lived for the last few years of her life and died almost 25 years ago. It did look vaguely familiar to me, and of course Barbara had no trouble finding me to pick me up.
We ended the day with lots of reminiscing and looking at pictures after talking a while with Terry and then Jon and Tobi. Tony took down their wedding album so I could see it. My mother was going on 32 when Tony and Barbara got married. She was stunningly beautiful and had such a gorgeous smile. Anne looks so much like her! I've always thought that that's who she takes after, but seeing those pictures makes it obvious.

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